“Here, My Dear” is the opening song to (and title track of) the album I consider to be Marvin Gaye’s greatest. This isn’t the popular opinion. Hell, there are a lot of folks who don’t even know Here, My Dear exists. After all, it sold poorly upon release and generated no hit singles despite following up Marvin’s smash “Got To Give It Up”. Don’t let its cult status prevent you from checking this album out, though. You’ll be depriving yourself of a soulful and immersive trip into Marvin’s head.
The genesis of Here, My Dear was Marvin’s divorce from his first wife, Anna Gordy. Yes, one of those Gordys. Anna’s brother was Berry Gordy, president of Marvin Gaye’s record label, Motown. Their split was fractious and provided a good lesson to folks who think about shitting where they eat. As part of the divorce settlement, Marvin was entitled to give the royalties from his next album to Anna. After pondering a throwaway record just to get it over with, Marvin decided to give listeners a window into the divorce. He documented his feelings on wax, and the result is an absolutely captivating suite of music.
Here My Dear‘s title track serves as a stunning intro. A doo-wop influenced slow jam featuring an army of harmonizing Marvins sounds pretty enticing, but then Gaye begins singing about Anna using their son to “keep (Marvin) in line”, and you realize this is much, much more than just pretty singing. The track is used to set up the story told over the remainder of the album, which is a genius move. Like the beginning of a good book or a good movie, it leaves you wanting more.
I guess I can’t say whether “Here, My Dear” as a song stands up independently from the album, but as the intro and summary of one of my favorite albums ever, I’ve gotta give it five stars anyway.